Hajj: Muslim women around the world reveal sexual harassment in Mecca during pilgrimage (PHOTOS)
Muslim women around the world are sharing stories about suffering sexual harassment and assaults while on pilgrimage in Mecca.
After one Pakistani woman bravely detailed her account about how she was harassed while in the Saudi Arabian city, others were emboldened to also come out with their stories.
In a widely shared Facebook post, first highlighted by Stepfeed, Sabica Khan reveals that she was performing tawaf, the key pilgrimage ritual of circling the Kaaba, the most sacred site in Islam, when she 'felt a hand' on her waist.
She writes that three circulations later, she 'suddenly felt something aggressively poking my butt, I froze, unsure of whether it was intentional. I ignored and just kept moving slowly because the crowd was huge.
'I even tried to turn around but woefully couldn't. When I reached the Yemeni corner, someone tried to grab and pinch my butt.'
'It's sad to say that you are not even safe at holy places. I've been harassed, not once, not twice , but thrice. My entire experience at the holy city is overshadowed by this horrible incident,’ Sabica said.
Below is Sabica’s full post:
*I was afraid to share this because it might hurt your religious sentiments*.
“While performing my tawaaf around the Kaaba after isha prayer, something really weird happened. It was my 3rd tawaf, and I felt a hand on my waist. I thought it was just an innocent mistake. I completely ignored. Then... I felt it again. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I kept moving. During my 6th tawaf I suddenly felt something aggressively poking my butt, I froze, unsure of whether it was intentional. I ignored and just kept moving slowly because the crowd was huge. I even tried to turn around but woefully couldn't. When I reached the Yemeni corner, someone tried to grab and pinch my butt. I decided to stop there. Grabbed his hand and threw it off me *couldn't move or turn around* I was literally petrified. Couldn't even escape, so I stood, and turned around as much as I could, to see what's happening, I turned around but... couldn't see who it was.
“I felt so violated. I felt unable to speak out. Stayed quiet because I knew no one would trust me, or nobody would take it seriously, except my mum. So I told her everything when I returned to the hotel room. She was incredibly confused and devastated. After this incident, she never allowed me to go there again alone.
“It's sad to say that you are not even safe at holy places. I've been harrased, not once, not twice , but thrice. My entire experience at the holy city is overshadowed by this horrible incident.
“I believe it's totally okay and important to be open about harassment.
Don't know how many of you had similar experience there but this incident has unfortunately left me feeling upset.”
The Facebook post has had more than 2,600 shares and over 800 comments, with many women sharing their own experiences of sexual harassment at the Kaaba.
One woman from Malaysia writes: “This has happened to me and many many others. When I wrote about this a few months back in a group, I was accused of lying and fantasising. It was during the tawaf where I felt something "hard on" on my back. I gave a back kick. Many of my friends had the same experience.'
Another, from India, said: It happened with me too, when I had gone for hajj as a 14 year old. Had no words, still have no words to describe this. '
Other women have taken to Twitter to share, with one woman from Nigeria writing: 'Women always get sexually harassed during hajj. Someone I know said a man tried to rub up against her backside while she was performing tawaf around the Kaaba. She thought it was because of the pushing cuz there were many people but when she looked back, mans was smiling at her.'
She also spoke of being harassed by two different taxidrivers while leaving the Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām mosque when she was just 16, and ended up walking back to her hotel.